In Chapel this morning we worshipped through my favorite song of all time.
Yes, that may seem like an erroneously sweeping statement…and I mean it.
That one 4-6 minute musical piece (eight if you are the LifeChange band) holds more significance to my life and walk with Christ than any song, poem, or piece of art.
I vividly remember my feet digging into the wet grass while graveside at my grandmother’s funeral. I do not think I had cried that much in my life. We are talking near dehydration. In a moment of complete brokenness, I begin to hum the words to this song as my friend rested her head on my shoulder. God brought me peace right there, in the cemetery, as they folded the flag draped over Nini’s coffin and presented it to my mother. I was so beyond broken. God healed me. He put me back together, and the lyrics to How He Loves resounded like a chime in my head.
over and over and over.
“We are His portion, and He is our prize. Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes.” The song just resonated with me.
The words nudged me through the toughest weekend of my life.
Now…back to today…
In a roar of worship, the bridge approached, and I whole-heartedly exclaimed…”And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss…”
I got some looks.
Now that David Crowder Band has covered this song, it has become one of the most over-played worship songs in congregations across the nation. The dang thing is nearly on repeat over at K-Love. The song is inescapable.
It is important to note that this song was released years before Crowder mass-popularized it. It was initially written and recorded by North Carolina’s own, John Mark McMillian. The musician originally scribed the line to read, “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,” but Dave’s version goes a little differently.
Crowder (along with most congregations) sings the line. “heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss.” The band changed the lyric, upon consulting John Mark, to the less controversial word. Now, I would argue the original meaning and context behind the “sloppy wet” line, as provocative as it may seem, is utterly beautiful.
The line captures and illustrates the juxtaposing message of the gospel in the rawest, most enamoring way I have ever heard it…
Upon the release of the rewritten song, McMillian went to his blog and had this to explain about his initial intention behind the sloppy lyrics.
The idea behind the lyric is that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth converge in a way that is both beautiful and awkwardly messy. Think about the birth of a child, or even the death of Jesus himself. These miracles are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly sloppy (“gory” may be more realistic, but “Heaven meets earth like a gory mess” didn’t seem to have the same ring). Why does the church have such a problem with things being sloppy? Do we really think we’re fooling anyone on Sunday morning, especially God? Are we going to offend him? I mean, he’s seen us naked in the shower all week and knows our worst thoughts, and still thinks we’re awesome. What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead? That could be revolutionary!
You can read his whole post here.
Smoke was rapidly rising into the air. Transforming a clear April day into a deceivingly grey journey up highway number one (connecting Raleigh to Sanford, NC). Naturally, I was a worried that a forest fire had broken out.
Turns out they were doing a control burn along the forest edges. I was completely ignorant, so I asked my brother (Degree in Forestry) what on earth a control burn was. Turns out that they burn the brush of the forest to help trees go and enrich the soil. You heard it. Enrich the soil…which made no sense to me. Turns out that the fire broils the brush, trees, and foliage down to pure nutrients. We are talking that stuff is great for the forest floor.
Hear me out.
When the fires of life are roaring, maybe God is throwing a control burn your direction. All the trials and hardships may seem utterly painful and nonsensical, but God may be using them to enrich you. Make you stronger. Make you lean on Him.
The fires of life might be God trying to shape you, refine you, or empower you.
Next time you are going through the fires of life, contemplate what God is doing with you. Don’t just rush to muffle the fires out, look to God’s face. He will see you through it, for He makes all things work together for your good.
Let is burn.
Embrace His mystery.
I have attended a few church plants in my years, and I love the simple yet authentic nature of what they do.
It’s community at its purest.
I pray constatntly about what God wants for me in the future, and planting a church has been laid out more times than I may be comfortable with.
Blogger and musicians, Carolos Whittaker, points out some pretty hilarious aspects of being a church plant.
Does your assembly fit into this?
When the video introducing the sermon is better than the sermon, you might be a church plant.
When you end each service with, “Could you please stack your chairs in stacks of 7″, you might be a church plant.
If you share one office with 7 people and 4 volunteers, you might be a church plant.
If your green room smells like a locker room, cause it is a locker room, you might be a church plant.
If you’re pastor wears Affliction shirts, you might be a church plant.
If your worship leader doesn’t look like an Abercrombie model yet, you might be a church plant.
If your worship leader looks like an Abercrombie model yet sounds like a wounded beaver, you might be a church plant.
I will not play at tug o’ war.
I’d rather play at hug o’ war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.
-Shel Silverstein (from Falling Up)
What is it that they did?
They stepped down from the lead role at their churches*. There seems to be a trend in Christian circles, the leaders of the faith are leaving their huge churches and seeking out something more. Something they perceive as more meaningful.
I love seeing this. This is the new movement of the church. People are getting sick of just sitting in their buildings (we are talking multi-million dollar buildings, at that), and seeking out the bigger problems in the world.
I agree wholeheartedly with what people like Bell** and Francis are doing.
Chan explained, “I started to just feel too much like this earth was my home in some ways – you know you just get your roots in and get comfortable. And then I started feeling this call and there’s all sorts of fears…”
He gets it. The call of the church is not to be rooted down, but to go into the world. To be the body of Christ.
The church is a movement.
*Like mega-mega churches. Each of these dudes packed out tens of thousands of people in their congregations a week.
**I am strictly talking about his act of stepping down for bigger things, not going to be discussing his skewed theology. That is a different post, different week. Don’t think for a second that, through this post, I am endorsing any aspect of Bell’s theology.
There is a nasty trap in creative ministry today — complacency. Google and Bing (ewe) are leading the way in this boring parade of mediocrity. Many designers, myself included, are quite attracted to the ease of the internet. It is sadly easy. If you have an idea — just look it up. Someone else has already done it, and probably better than you could. So, what to do? Just copy/paste? Give up?
Sadly, the internet is quickly becoming the least creative place on the planet. It is simply an endless cornucopia of extraneous links that lead you no where.
Well, no where outside of the generic and mediocre.
It is time for us Christians to take creation by the horns and express the Glory of our Savior by all means possible.
All of the…
Painting, Sculpting, Singing, Sketching, Dancing, Acting, Writing, and Thinking…
These verbs are purely our hearts cry of admiration to the God of creation. It’s the rawest expression of our redeemed hearts esteeming their utmost veneration for their master.
Let’s use our creativity as a divine tribute to the most amazing Creator to ever exist.
This is because our creativity is firmly rooted in the artistic work of God.
The most creative entity to ever live.
He created all the beauty that surrounds us. It’s all by the work of his steady hand.
We are his masterpiece. You get that?
As Christians, we all have God living directly within our being. Therefore we have access to His non-surmounted creativity.
We all do.
Tragically, while we get so caught up in the internet culture of the times…there is a whole beautiful existence outside ready to empower our minds and enchant our hearts.
But…we just seem to ignore it.
God’s work is out there — to ready to inspire.
I mean, for real. The internet has only been around for a few years. Our creator has been here forever. And will exist forever.
Our God totally out-designed anything google can squeeze out.
Allow me to implore you…
We need to transcend our current creative position!
Let’s leave behind the generic and the plain…let’s go far beyond the shackles of complacency as Christian creatives.
Here is the challenge. Step away from your monitor and go outside and explore this amazing world in which we live! Just grab your moleskine* and allow God flow from the center of your being to the ink on the pages.
You have so much more creativity within you than you could ever imagine.
*the only journal worth using, period.
I have avoided tumblr like I have avoided that guy who answers all my questions in story-form. Yeah. That guy.
I make fun of tumblr…a lot. I mean, it is like myspace* for hipsters, but here I am — typing my first post. The truth is, I have just grown jaded of facebook, and I figured tumblr was my next evolutionary step in social-media.
Will I do much with this tumblr? Probably not.
Do I even know what to write about? no.
Why did I make it? I was bored.
Why am I using this Q/A formate? I do not know.
*You remember myspace? Full of vague self-loathing quotes, obnoxious backgrounds, and general disregard for personal privacy? Those were the days…